James is an adult survivor of childhood cancer. As a child, James was an active ice hockey player and skied with his identical twin. As a teenager, James began having back pain, the pain eventually led to numbness and one morning he awoke and couldn’t move his legs.
He was rushed to UCt Health Center where it was determined that he had a tumor on his spine and was diagnosed with PNET (primitive neuroectodermal tumor). He had emergency surgery to remove part of the tumor to release the pressure on his spine. Two weeks later he had a thoracotomy to remove the rest of the tumor, the ends of his ribs were removed and a port was placed for chemotherapy. Over the next two years, he endured many months of Cisplatinin, Vincristine, Adryomycin and 27 treatments of radiation.
On February 18th, I will eat a scoop or two of #icecreamforbreakfast to celebrate with James and his family because #teensgetcancertoo. #survivorTweet
James said, “As a teenager losing your hair is not special or fun, especially when you feel bad and people look at you funny. But the chemotherapy was an every three week experience of being sick and throwing up. Every treatment they offered just made me go to sleep and wake up and throw up. While radiation seemed to to hurt initially, after several treatments, the radiation caused my esophagus to ulcerate and bleed and hurt… I used to joke that it was the diet of diets, as I lost 37 pounds in two weeks. “
Throughout it all he was able to wiggle his big toes, but it took a lot of hard work and physical therapy to be able to walk again. Eventually he was able to reach a full recovery.
He now has two beautiful kids and is an avid childhood cancer advocate, eating with us in past years and raising money for research for better treatments. James said, “One of the hardest parts of cancer was and will always be the ones battling with you who pass away while you keep living. No one can prepare you for cancer and no one can prepare a kid for watching other kids around you pass away.”